Houston's Mayor Has Higher Political Calling

Bill White is supposed to make it official. The popular Houston Mayor is to announce he will seek the U.S. Senate seat held by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Pundits and party faithful think his chances are good. Pat Hernandez has the story.
Should Hutchison resign her senate seat and challenge incumbent Rick Perry for governor, sources close to Mayor White say he will end months of speculation and seek a return to Washington.

"Would he be a good senator for the people of the state of Texas? The answer there is obviously and equivocally absolutely."

That's Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Gerry Birnberg. He says White is passionate about making a difference on behalf of the Lone Star.

"Texas, unfortunately, lacks any kind of clout in Congress right now and having a member of the U.S. senate from Texas who is a democrat during a time when there is a Democratic administration in the White House, and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress I think would bode very well for the people of Texas."

Political pundit George Strong says running a senate campaign won't be cheap:

"That's the crucial thing for all Democrats is, how do you get ten million, twelve million dollars now. You look at Rick Noriega, who just went through a U.S. senate race. I think he raised about a million, maybe a little bit more, but was way outspent by Senator John Cornyn. So, Bill is going to have to figure out how he can raise money."

Strong says White could use some of his own money, having done well in the legal business and corporate world. He adds his friends could pitch in, but there are limitations in a U.S. senate race. But as popular as the three term mayor is to Houstonians, he may not be known to the rest of Texas, like former comptroller John Sharp. Bill Miller is a political consultant in Austin.

"White is mayor of Houston, and that's a big plus, but John Sharp has been a statewide official. He's been comptroller for eight years and people know his name pretty much across the state. It's not current, like Bill White, but it's more widely known."

He could benefit from a special election in November because it would coincide with city elections in Houston influencing statewide turnout. Miller thinks White battling Sharp would be interesting.

"They both get into a race to win it, and I would expect them to be vigorous candidates and be very very offensive minded, knowing that if they do win the primary, they've got a better than even shot at picking up the senate seat."

Regardless of who the Republican candidate might be.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...